New study was jointly funded by the Water Research Foundation and the U.S. EPA
Water Research Foundation (WRF) completed a new study, “Effects of Wildfire on Drinking Water Utilities and Best Practices for Wildfire Risk Reduction and Mitigation” (project #4482).
The project compiles information gathered from a survey administered to drinking water utilities that experienced or are at risk of experiencing effects from wildfires; feedback gathered at an industry workshop convened in Denver that explored related topics in detail; and a review of related industry, academic and scientific literature. The project was jointly funded by WRF and the U.S. EPA’s Source Water Protection Program and Urban Waters Federal Partnership.
Wildfires can have significant impact on water utilities due to their potential widespread effect on source water quality and related treatment costs. From Jan. 1 through Nov. 8, 2013, 42,538 wildfires were reported in the U.S., burning almost 4.1 million acres of land. Burned areas are vulnerable to erosion and mud slides that can fill up sources of drinking water with ash, silt, fire retardant chemicals and contaminants, impacting both water quality and quantity.
Survey participants reported that collaboration with other drinking water systems, landowners, non-profit organizations, and local, state and federal government agencies was a critical aspect of effective wildfire mitigation. Collaboration helped survey respondents expand their knowledge base and leverage financial resources. Other best practices identified through the survey included: